Though the English department offers this course under its “Readings” rubric, it is in truth a course as much about Doings as it is Readings–though readings aplenty there will be. There are three general kinds of required activities in this class, and these will form the basis for your final grade. Each of them, of course, contains elements of the others—our doings will require writing (sometimes in code as opposed to semantically), writing is a form of doing, and connecting happens in both ways even as writing and doing are essential ways of making connections. Nonetheless, for purposes of evaluation, they are broken out as follows:


  • Exercises: 30%


  • Public Writing: 15%
  • Final Summation: 15%


  • Presentation: 10%
  • Fieldwork: 10%
  • Participation: 20%

More detail on each individual activity follows.

Exercises. These will take the form of weekly assignments intended to give you hands-on experience with a particular tool, technology, platform, or practice. Some exercises will be graded pass/fail, others (more qualitative) will use the normal alphabetic distribution. The type of grading to be employed will be indicated in advance.

Public Writing. All of you will create accounts on the class blog and post regularly. You will also comment on one another’s postings. Beyond that, you may choose to blog at another venue, or comment on someone else’s blog posting at another venue, or engage a thread on Twitter or on a listserv. There are no weekly quotas. Rather, at various set intervals throughout the semester–typically upon conclusion of each module–I will ask you to submit a brief accounting of your public writings. I will then evaluate these for both substance and heft, and factor my evaluation into that portion of your final grade. Approximately 750 words of writing every few weeks is a good rule of thumb, with the writing being more or less evenly distributed across the evaluation period (i.e., not one mammoth chunk at the very last minute). (We will discuss FERPA and other issues associated with classroom public writing; Duke University’s Kevin Smith offers a useful introduction to what’s in question.)

Final Summation. This is intended as a relatively modest undertaking that both aggregates and packages key instances of your public writing from throughout the semester and offers some concluding reflective and critical analysis. There will be an option to work in groups, i.e. students with a core common interest in DH–big data, say, or diversity–might choose to work together to submit their summations in conjunction with one another. We will discuss various tools and methods for aggregating and packaging your public writing.

Presentation. Everyone will be responsible for presenting (or co-presenting) on one set (or sub-set) of the weekly reading assignments. Presenters will be responsible for offering an initial (and not necessarily comprehensive) synthesis of the material (and responses on the blog) and furnishing questions and provocations in support of discussion. A schedule of presentations is available here.

Fieldwork. The fieldwork component of the course requires you to go places and do things. We are situated in the midst of one of the greatest cultural heritage centers in the world, with a thriving local digital humanities community. Fieldwork may therefore take the form of attending talks at Maryland or other campuses; going to a relevant conference; visiting a library or museum that has a relevant exhibition; visiting another digital humanities center; having coffee with a DH practitioner (you’ll have to use your own initiative); and even attending a social event, such as the monthly DCHDC meet-ups. You must accumulate 10 points of fieldwork over the course of the semester. You are responsible for keeping your own tally and submitting a record (on your honor) of your fieldwork to me at the end of the semester. If you have ideas for possible fieldwork not covered or anticipated by the schedule, they are of course most welcome–just check with me first.

Participation. An essential component of the class, including both face to face meetings and our online activities is participation. Since attendance is essential to in-class participation, attendance counts toward the participation portion of your grade in the sense that more than one absence will have a negative impact on my evaluation. I also reserve the right to ask anyone to drop the course if weekly attendance is proving especially problematic.

Auditors will be exempt from Fieldwork, the Presentation, and the Final Summation, but not the Exercises, Public Writing, or Participation.